Member of Flynn Ken O'Dowd.
Member of Flynn Ken O'Dowd.

Pollies split on North Queensland closure

GLADSTONE’S mayor and state member have thrown support behind a proposed closure of North Queensland from the south, however, the federal member believes it’s nothing more than a “pipedream”.

On Thursday NQ First leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan explained how he would like to curb the spread of coronavirus by seeing Queensland ‘locked down’ into at least nine standalone quarantine ‘regions’ – Cape York, Far North Queensland, Townsville, Mackay-Whitsunday, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Darling Downs, Outback and South-East – segregated by police and supported by military personnel.

Mr Costigan suggested Central Queensland’s southern border would be on the Bruce Highway at Kolan River in line with the Gladstone Region local government boundary.

Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett said he supported a lockdown but said considerations needed to be made for residents in the southern part of the local government area.

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett.

“How are people in Rosedale going to get their groceries,” Cr Burnett asked.

“Logistically it’s a big issue.

“This idea has merit. It shouldn’t be thrown out.”

Cr Burnett suggested a more suitable boundary could be in Gin Gin to allow for people in the south of the Gladstone region to still go to Bundaberg.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said he also supported the idea but there needed to be more than just a roadblock on the Bruce Highway.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher.

“We’re coming up to the Easter period. People are going to be in lockdown and getting itchy feet,” Mr Butcher said.

Mr Butcher suggested boundaries could be south at Miriam Vale and north past Rockhampton to prevent holiday-makers from coming from both sides of the state.

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said the main priority should be focused on social distancing measures to control the spread of the virus.

Member of Flynn Ken O'Dowd.
Member of Flynn Ken O'Dowd.

“At this stage I believe this is nothing more than a pipedream conceived by a few pollies,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“This is a decision for the Queensland State Government who will take advice from Queensland Health.”

Mr O’Dowd said if there was to be a closure of the border it should be further south near Gympie and closer to the hotspots.

According to Queensland Health in Central Queensland there are nine confirmed cases of coronavirus, with one a woman at Calliope who has been in isolation since she returned to the area from interstate.

All other CQ cases have been in the Rockhampton and Livingstone areas.

Of all coronavirus cases in the state, 8 per cent were recorded north of Gladstone.